Ema Reid T’17 Shares Her Refugee Story

Ema Reid T'17, a survivor of the Bosnian War, is sharing her story with hopes that it will humanize the refugee.

“When we think of refugees, we often think of people in tattered clothes crossing our borders, or packed like sardines on a boat, because that’s all we see,” Ema Reid told a Tuck audience in May 2016 during an event series called Tuck Talks, a community-wide evening of storytelling intended to foster meaningful connections and strengthen the Tuck fabric. During her 12-minute talk, Reid described the experiences of her and her family members as survivors and refugees of the Bosnian War that erupted in the early 1990s. When President Trump signed an executive order on immigration in January, Reid realized her story was more relevant than ever and could offer a new perspective on what it means to be a refugee. She shared a video of her talk to social media—the reaction was overwhelming, she tells Poets & Quants.

“I knew I had an important perspective to share, and reposting this video was really my only contribution to the conversation,” Reid says. “It was so interesting to see people’s reactions—I guess I struck a chord.”

Reid says the aim of her talk was really to humanize the refugee through her own story.

“We’re deeply suspect of their motivations and genuinely question what they’re doing here in our country, stealing our jobs. We often scorn, ‘Why don’t they just go back home?’ But as my story hopefully highlights, they don’t have a home to return to. … And if they’re lucky enough to escape, and they find themselves here in the U.S., then to be honest we’re incredibly lucky to have them.”

Read the full story from Poets & Quants and watch her full Tuck Talk.